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POLICING MATTERS
Lincolnshire Constabulary

How I found a friend in PowerApps

Talk us through the Microsoft PowerApps event.

“Well I really had no idea what to expect, and I guess Microsoft expected that from the audience. They started off by describing the purpose of PowerApps, it’s basic functionality, and described some test cases that had been rolled out in other companies. They then built an app in front of us in around 45 minutes, which was essentially a corporate amazon-style shopping centre, where you could purchase different stationary and equipment. This brought the possibilities to life, and you could see that it got a few cogs turning. We then split up into teams for a brainstorming session to discuss potential app ideas. After 20 minutes or so, our team agreed on two final app concepts to present to the group.”

Which concept did your team take forward to the group?

“After some discussion, the team decided to share my idea with the group. A bit of a feather in the cap considering I didn’t have much knowledge of PowerApps! The idea itself is fairly simple, as was the demo that Microsoft created in front of us. It looks to streamline the process of a missing person alert, and ensure accuracy in the early stages of any search we do, regardless of location or circumstance. Basically, we want to automate the process of setting search parameters based on information we would otherwise receive from a PolSA (Police Search Advisor).”

“They built an app in front of us in 45 minutes! This brought the possibilities to life”

Jim Morrison

How do you see the app working in practice?

“Let me give you an example of how the app could assist: If we are responding to a missing person report, there are a number of variables in that situation we have to consider: Age, location, health and much more need to be considered, and will each independently affect the way we conduct our search. To do this, we call in the services of a PolSA. We will call them out to the location, which can take a couple of hours, and they will review their folder of information to recommend the best course of action. However, if we are out in the countryside on a winter’s evening, searching for an 84-year-old woman with dementia, time is critical. That’s where the app could help. By plugging in the relevant search information, the app would be able to suggest that because of X reasons, we should focus our search to Z parameters. We can then go ahead and accurately begin our search before the PolSA arrives, saving potentially valuable minutes and hours.”

What are the next steps on your app journey?

Microsoft are currently developing a pilot version of the app, with a view to testing them in force soon. We’ll be looking at the usability and feel of the pilot before eventually showcasing a final version to forces. Since the event, I’ve been privately playing around with PowerApps, building sandpit versions of potential future apps. We’re not quite live with Microsoft 365 yet, but this experience has really whet the appetite for things to come.”

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